On the 21st of October, Students Against Sweatshops picketed the Georgetown outlet of Abercrombie and Fitch. The sweatshop-friendly retailer was renamed "Abercrumble and Ditch" for their decision to refuse to sign the 2018 follow-on to the post Rana Plaza "Accord on Fire and Building Safety." Worse yet, some of the protesters reported the retailer is still using one or more suppliers who were involved in the Rana Plaza collapse that killed almost 1,200 workers back in 2013.
"Abercrumble" indeed-that's exactly what happened to the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh back in 2013: the building collapsed shortly after workers noticed cracks in the walls and were ordered back to work anyway. That collapse came on the heels of an earlier fire also in Bangladesh that was compared to the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist fire in NYC back in 2011. Now as then, union organizers are responding, and now as then, garment bosses such as those selling to Abercombie and Fitch are responsing with union-busting efforts.
Physical assault, blackllist, and even sexual assault have been used by the garment bosses in Bangladesh to discourage workers from joining unions. Under this kind of attack, it is critical that supporters in consuming countries such as the US target retailers selling clothes made in such conditions, essentially a "demand reduction" strategy. Nobody should be able to buy clothing made in factories that are waiting to crumble or burn, or where workers face sexual assault for joining a union without having to consciously cross a picket line. A few shoppers at "Abercrumble and Ditch" in Georgetown on April 21 did exactly that, but far more people passed by without shopping there. The place did not look very busy except for police arresting an African-American man they dragged out of the store for an unknown reason not related to the protest.